By: MRN Radio
For Regan Smith, the Aaron's 312 was worth the wait.
After rained delayed the start of the race by 3 hours, Smith put JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead for the first time after he captured the win in a wild Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The race ended on a one-time only green-white-checkered finish after NASCAR determined the race would end on lap 107 due to darkness. The race went into overtime when a caution flag flew on lap 105 for when Joey Coulter got turned by his drafting partner Justin Allgaier. Smith was seventh on the final restart and was able to get to the front on the final lap when a seven-car accident broke out coming to the checkered flag. Kasey Kahne was originally shown as the winner, but after they reviewed the tape it showed that Smith was in the lead when the seventh and final caution flag displayed, giving him his second career win in his 111th start.
"We were down the backstretch and I thought we were going to finish fifth," Smith said. "They got to messing around in the front and I saw them get jammed up. The 22 (Joey Logano) got a little loose, I think, and when that happened that gave us a huge run down the frontstretch.
"I've got to thank TaxSlayer this is their first win on this car since they have been sponsoring this company. We told them we were going to give them some wins this year so there's the first one of hopefully many."
Smith came into the race one point out of the championship lead and now leaves with a 27-point advantage over Sam Hornish Jr., who was caught up in an 11-car accident in Turn 3 on lap 94.
Logano led a race-high 35 laps and finished second in his first start of the season in the No. 22 Ford. He started second on the final restart and had help from rookie Alex Bowman.
"We were going down the back straightaway and we had a big run on those guys and I thought, ‘We’ve got ‘em here,’ and I wanted to pull them apart, so I decided to side draft them super-aggressively and got myself loose, which shook Alex off the back of me and we lost our run," Logano said. "From there, I was trying to maintain what I had and I knew the caution came out, so I was just trying to stop everybody from going around me and, unfortunately, one got by.”
Kahne thought he had the win, but still was able to put two JR Motorsports cars in the top five after he was scored in third.
"I'm just surprised the caution came out," Kahne said. "We were just about there. I've seen a lot of times they just go to the line. We won if they go to the line, but they didn't so that's the way it goes. Regan did a great job and happy for our Great Clips team. We had a really fast Chevy."
Kurt Busch led 19 laps and finished fourth in his second start of the season with Phoenix Racing.
"It was a great run for us with the Phoenix Racing Chevy," Busch said. "The guys prepared a cool car looking like a throwback, retro paint scheme with Neil Bonnett and the 'Alabama Gang.' We were hoping they would help us ride to victory and we came up a bit shy. I thought we had a good position. We got the lead down the back straightaway. Still the place is 2.66 miles, a long way back around and we got caught from behind by a couple groups of guys."
After being involved in the incident with Coulter and then Blake Koch on lap 89, Allgaier came home fifth.
"Unfortunately we got the 00 and the 54 turned around there," said Allgaier, who now sits third in the standings. "I don't know what happened exactly, but it’s unfortunate because both of those guys had really good cars and I hate it for their day. There at the end I was pushing Kurt and we had a great run going and unfortunately we got apart. They started crashing and luckily they kind of parted in front of me."
When the dust settled on the last lap crash, Parker Kligerman, Mike Wallace, Jason White, Jeremy Clements and Austin Dillon completed the top 10.